As an expat, I appreciate new settings, and my favourite reads are those that have taken me around the world in my mind's eye or have stayed with me as I find myself in new locales
My favourite reads: Ellen Fortini
As an expat, I appreciate new settings, and my favourite reads are those that have taken me around the world in my mind's eye or have stayed with me as I find myself in new locales. The characters - real and fictional - become familiar friends and relatable themes bring comfort in new situations.
11/22/63 by Stephen King (2011)
When I tell people I am from Maine, “Oh, Stephen King!” is the usual response. I had never read a King book, but when 11/22/63 was released I decided to get to know my fellow Mainer’s writing. It’s the story of a man who is shown a wormhole and travels back in time, attempting to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy. The story is meticulous and, despite the length of the book, the pace is exhilarating.
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (1995)
This was an early Oprah’s Book Club pick that struck me because of the quaint middle-America setting and the quirky idea of a young woman, Novalee Nation, living in a Walmart after being abandoned on a road trip by her boyfriend. Novalee finds her own self-made family among the townspeople who help her, and those she meets as she rebuilds her life, both before and after a devastating tornado.
Zamboni Rodeo: Chasing Hockey Dreams from Austin to Albuquerque by Jason Cohen (2001)
Once upon a time, Texas had more professional ice-hockey teams than any state or province. I used to work for one, which was part of a minor league set in non-traditional markets, where the ice rinks were often old rodeo arenas. Jason Cohen spent a season travelling with one team and experiencing this desert-hockey culture.
Good Grief by Lolly Winston (2004)
This novel was the only English-language book in the house, on a holiday in Spain. It takes place in the United States and I had just moved to Germany, but its theme of starting over felt like a connection to my new European life. Sophie is a young widow who opens a bakery and meets characters who help her to grieve. Enthralled, I wrote to the author to ask for more Sophie stories.
I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne and Chris Ayres (2010)
Rock autobiographies are my favourite genre. I love knowing the stories behind the artists and their songs. Reading this book feels like you’re sitting backstage with the Prince of Darkness, and he is personally telling you the true stories of the birth of Black Sabbath, the death of Randy Rhoads and his own survival as one of rock’s greatest frontmen.
Ellen Fortini is listings editor at The National